A KNUTSFORD entrepreneur – who has mentored some of the world’s leading bosses including Apple’s Tim Cook and IBM boss Virginia Rometty – has founded a charity to help people who are thinking about setting up their own business.

Having worked with some of the world’s leading companies, including Coca-Cola, IBM and SmithKline Beecham, Harold Sharples of High Legh, now wants to turn around the fortunes of start-up enterprises.

His charity, New Business Hatchery, is searching for the first 50 people to support and guide through the ‘start up’ journey.

Harold, who has worked in business development for 25 years, said: “Only 20 per cent of new business start-ups survive the first 12 months. It is the riskiest trip any entrepreneur ever embarks on.

“My charity aims to help people free of charge to turn their business idea into reality. It’s easy to start a business but it’s much harder to make it a high growth business, yet every year they create an additional 500,000 new jobs.

“The average High-Growth business has a life of 35 years and beyond – 10 times as long as most other businesses.

“Our aim is to contribute to the common good by assisting people with ideas, passion and drive to create long-term jobs and prosperity - for themselves and for their region. To kick-start the charity, we want to help our first 50 new business start-ups.”

Harold is already in talks with Tim Cook and pop star William Adams, better known as will.i.am, about becoming ambassadors for the charity.

He added: “I’ve not spoken to Tim for a while because obviously he’s a busy man running Apple. But I have contacted him recently about the charity and it would be fantastic to have him on board as an Ambassador.

“As for will.i.am – he may be better known for his great music – but he is a serious entrepreneur and very successful businessman - in January 2011, Intel Corp named will.i.am as director of creative innovation, with input in developing smartphones, tablets and laptops.

“And he has recently expanded his forays into iPhone accessory development, with plans to release a camera enhancer for iPhone photographs. We’d also love to have him on board.”

But for now, Harold is focusing his energies on identifying the first people to support.

“The trick is to find those who are in the idea stage and have not yet started their business. Everyone starts with ideas – but our process transforms them into great ideas – and then great ideas into great businesses. So we would urge people who are thinking about launching a business in 2014, or who are in the process of writing a business plan, to contact us.”

For enquiries about the new business start-up programme, the charity can be contacted on 01925 751521 or contact@newbusinesshatchery.com